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Activists Claim Bullying Against Muslim Middle School Student In El Cajon

A 14-year-old Syrian refugee identified by the pseudonym Sidra speaks about b...

Photo by Matthew Bowler

Above: A 14-year-old Syrian refugee identified by the pseudonym Sidra speaks about being bullied, Aug. 1, 2018.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations is calling on families in east county’s Cajon Valley Union School District to come forward with reports of bullying. In a news conference on Wednesday, the group alleged eight to 10 students assaulted a 14-year-old Syrian refugee and her parents after following her home from Greenfield Middle School in March.

The girl, identified by the pseudonym Sidra, said the incident followed more than a year of taunts at school.

"I came to the United States on November 2, 2016. After these problems, I hated school and I was scared to go to school. I came here to live. I have a dream," she said.

The family said the attackers pulled at Sidra's hijab and demanded she prove she was a legal resident. In a statement, Sidra’s father also alleged the students were forceful enough to break the door as he tried to shut them out of the home.

CAIR said Greenfield principal Gregory Calvert acted with indifference when told about the incident, and called for his resignation.

Cajon Valley Superintendent David Miyashiro said he cannot say whether steps were taken, citing student privacy.

"I can say with confidence that every school leader we have in place, every one, including the principal at Greenfield, cares deeply about kids. They’re aligned with our vision of creating happy, healthy relationships on campus," he said.

Miyashiro said the district has invested heavily in social-emotional health and cultural awareness.

CAIR says it’s aware of several bullying incidents in the district and is calling for sensitivity training.

An effort to roll out such CAIR training in San Diego Unified was met with a lawsuit from a parent group alleging it favored Islam over other religions. That case is still pending.

Last year, CAIR said it saw a 10 percent increase in Muslims reporting hate crimes to its California offices. A separate survey said many of California's Muslim youth were subject to bullying.

A Sheriff's Department investigation into the incident is pending. Neither the department nor CAIR have provided KPBS with police reports and cell phone video that reportedly shows the attack.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations said the 14-year-old girl and her parents were attacked by eight to 10 students who had followed her home from Greenfield Middle School.

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